I’m Chanpory, and this is my site on how to live and work better as a designer.

You should follow me on Twitter here.

For more, check out the archives.

For the past year, I’ve been anxiously anticipating the relaunch of Macworld’s website. I had completed the design in 2006, but after a year, the site curiously had not changed…

Until this week.

On Monday, Macworld launched a beta version of their spanking new site. For readers, it was an early holiday present. For me, it was also a surprise–my design was shelved. Denied. Rejected. Canned.

Here’s what the new site looks like

(Sorry for the giant images.)

Macworld Beta

Macworld Beta

Macworld Beta

Here’s my original design

(Sorry for the Lorem Ipsum.)

Macworld Beta

Macworld Beta

Macworld Beta

Macworld Beta

Sure, I’m a bit disappointed. Nobody likes rejection, but I’m being a good sport. I’m not sinking into a deep dark depression, I’m not fuming mad, and I don’t blame Macworld.

Why am I not pulverizing pixels in a fit of rage? Because rejection (in design) is a good thing. Two reasons why:

  1. Rejection makes you tougher
    In design, rejection not only happens, it happens a lot. Designing is about editing out everything that doesn’t work. For this reason, you’ll hear “no” more than you do “yes.” Think of rejection as a process of design, and you’ll be less sensitive to next sting of rejection.

  2. Rejection makes you smarter
    Rejection allows you to reexamine your work. In hindsight, I look at my version of Macworld and now cringe at the one million things I could have done differently. Why did I put that there? Why didn’t I…. okay, okay, I’m moving on. Instead of obsessing over flaws, I ask “what were the other possible options I did not think about? What issues did I not consider?” This process of discovering options helps you think smarter on the next project.

To reap the benefits of rejection, you have to:

  1. Recognize that it sucks, then reframe it as an opportunity.
    I know that sounds like management training mumbo jumbo, but think about it. Why waste time dwelling on something you can’t change? Learn, then move on. Period.

  2. Cut the umbilical cord to your work
    Social rejection truly does hurt, but this isn’t about that. Your portfolio is not a physical or spiritual extension of you. You are more than your work. When someone criticizes what you’ve made, they’re talking about the work, not you.

I suspect there were myriad business reasons for Macworld’s decision to develop a different design. Change in management, change in backend, change in business goals. All might have happened within the past year. Amidst these types of changes, it’s not a surprise my design failed to meet Macworld’s new and emerging needs.

I still proud of my work. I’m also proud of the team at MetaDesign that worked on it with me. No matter which design is chosen (or rejected), relaunching a large website is a feat. Sincere kudos to Macworld.

15 Comments

  • Mirko

    gravatarDec 5, 2007
    7:31 am

    There’s no doubt that if a year goes by after a completed design, you’re going to find many things you wish you’ve done differently. We all change and so does the Web. That’s why the big guys realign their designs now and then.

    That being said, I still like your design better that the one they went with. Details aside, the overall feel of the website is much more “Mac” in my book and their new header is quite… boring.

  • Lindsey

    gravatarDec 5, 2007
    7:39 am

    Honestly I like yours better. I like the texture of their background but their separated menu and their feature arrangement seems a bit out of place. I like how your design ties together as one. The blue and green might get a bit much for frequent readers but the placement and font selection are top notch. Keep up the good work anyway ;)

  • Travis Isaacs

    gravatarDec 5, 2007
    8:27 am

    I think the beta version is pretty good, but lacks the polish that yours does. Their search button really, really ugly.

  • Fern

    gravatarDec 5, 2007
    11:24 am

    I think your design is better. The colored section headers make it easier for my eye to skim the page and find something that I might want to read. The design they went with looks very conservative and staid, not what I would associate with Macs.

  • IAAdmin

    gravatarDec 5, 2007
    11:45 am

    I totally agree with your assessment of rejection. It stings for a while, but using it as a learning experience is very productive. Focus on what you can change, not what you can’t.

  • brian

    gravatarDec 6, 2007
    11:21 am

    I prefer the chosen design. While your design is nice, the treatment of the sections makes it hard to tell between content and ads which can be killer on a site like MacWorld. The chosen design also feels more titanium and mac-like where your version feels very pc. I like how the beta version feels like a newspaper or magazine versus the cnet/consumer reports feel I get from your design.

    Good work none the less and I whole heartily agree with your observations about rejection and growth.

  • Chanpory Rith

    gravatarDec 6, 2007
    12:20 pm

    Thank you everyone for the positive comments.

    @Brian, I totally agree with your assessment. Here’s a little bit more background on the design process for my version of Macworld.

    The general grid and content layout was based on earlier design I did for PC World’s website (which has also changed significantly.) The backend for both sites was essentially the same, so to reduce cost, the structure became a built-in constraint for the new Macworld.

    MetaDesign and I originally suggested a more editorial feel for the PC World site, and subsequently Macworld, but it was abandoned in favor of a more product-oriented design. Part of this was driven by advertising needs.

    From what I can tell, PC World and Macworld has reoriented and is now presenting itself in a more editorial manner. Cnet.com appears to have changed in look as well. I suspect this has something to do with the growth of editorial blogs that have become direct competitors to the sites.

    Knowing now the influence of blog, wikis, and online communities, I would have definitely designed the sites differently. Hindsight is always 20/20. :-)

  • Robert Smithson

    gravatarDec 6, 2007
    1:59 pm

    I’m also going with the chosen one. I am not a web designer, but it feels nice and clean. If something makes me anxious or confused in terms of informational presentation, nothing else matters.

  • Amanda

    gravatarDec 9, 2007
    3:38 pm

    There are varying needs, control (+egos) and different points of view in this industry. The lucky few are able to convince with work they are pleased with as well. Too bad the much of the world is trained to respond to bad design. To change what much of the world has come to know brings out some interesting work. The nature of the industry, of course.

    Nice work, Chanpory. A shame it’s not being used. Aside from things you may now want to change a year later, the order, readability…ability to navigate site, for me, was much better.

  • Zack

    gravatarDec 10, 2007
    5:17 pm

    Chanpory, thanks for the walk down memory lane. As one of the members of the design team it’s nice to see both designs laid out side by side. As is par for the course this was not an easy project and coupled with the fact that mac owners are so rabid to the mac aesthetic I still think that we were right on with the brand. Congrats to Macworld on getting the new design out I’m still proud of the work we did together.

    Cheers,

    Zack

  • sam

    gravatarDec 12, 2007
    4:12 pm

    You forgot the main benefit of being rejected: You get to recycle the design!

  • joecab

    gravatarDec 25, 2007
    8:18 pm

    Count me as also preferring your design much more. The only thing I would have killed is that bottom reflection which was fine when you did it a year ago but too much of a Web 2.0 cliché nowadays.

    Actually I’m probably not going to bother with Macworld’s site at all anymore. It was better when it was still MacCentral and you could just get the news summaries view.

  • mrfahrenheitmedia

    gravatarJan 11, 2008
    10:38 am

    I actually see a lot of strong points in your designs…at least the first 3 screenshots. By grouping the non-Advertising items with either a green or blue gradient ‘header container’, you have provided the viewer with a quick visual road map of how to mentally disect all the groups of information served on one page.

    nice work.

  • Sara

    gravatarFeb 8, 2008
    10:06 pm

    so i have no idea what Macworld is, but this totally applied to my life right now. I needed to hear about dealing with rejection, so thanks for the insight!

  • Richard

    gravatarAug 9, 2008
    4:39 am

    Thanks for the advice, I definitely prefer your design over the newer version. The new one to me seems far to cluttered.